On Paths: Brahma-net, Avataṃsaka, Surangama

Discuss and learn about the traditional Mahayana scriptures, without assuming that any one school ‘owns’ the only correct interpretation.
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Leo Rivers
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On Paths: Brahma-net, Avataṃsaka, Surangama

Post by Leo Rivers » Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:06 pm

On Paths: Brahma-net, Avataṃsaka, Surangama. Being new to Chinese Buddhhism I am discovering several sutras present parallel versions of the Path:

Here are some shared contents of three Sūtras:

Flower Ornament Sūtra /Sūtra of the Garland of the Original Karmas /Surangama Sūtra

Ch. 27 /Ten Levels of Abiding /Stabilizing the Mind
Ch. 15 /ten Levels of Action /Abodes
Ch. 21 /≠ /Practices
Ch. 25 /Ten Levels of Transference of Merit /Ten Dedications
≠ / ≠ /4 Additional Practices
Ch. 26 / the Ten Grounds /the Ten Grounds
≠ /the Ten Levels of Abiding Eleventh & Twelfth /The 2 Final Stages

It would be interesting to find a way to decide which of the presentations of the path here that are all obviously cousins is “The One” in the sense of being a consensus final authority.

In the “Brahma-net Sutra”, concluding the 1st chapter on Vairocana we read:
“The Buddhas then disappeared from the Lotus treasury world,
entered the essence-nature empty space floral brilliance samadhi

1. and returned to their former places under the bodhi tree in this world of Javbudvipa and the heaven of the 4 Kings and preached the Dharma of the “10 Oceans Of Worlds.”
2. Thereupon, they ascended to Lord Shaka’s palace and expounded the “10 Dwellings,”
3. Proceeded to the Suyama heaven and taught the “10 Practices,”
4. proceeded further to the 4th Heaven and taught the “10 Dedications,”
5. proceeded further to the transformation of bliss Heaven and taught the “10 Dhyana Samadhi,”
6. proceeded further to the Heaven of Comfort from Others’ Emanations and taught the “10 Grounds,”
7. proceeded further to the 1st Dhyana Heaven and taught the “10 Vajra Stages,”
8. proceeded further to the 2nd Dhyana Heaven and taught the “10 Practices,”
9. proceeded further to the 3rd Dhyana Heaven and taught the “10 Vows,”
10. finally in the 4th Dhyana Heaven, at Lord Brahma’s Palace, they taught the “Mind-Ground-Dharma Door” chapter,

which Vairocana to in eons past, expounded the Lotus treasury world (the cosmos).”

I have added the numbers to help clarify the order of presentations.

* Brahma Net Sutra - Moral Code of the Bodhisattvas, Sutra Translation Committee of the United States and Canada, 2000 :buddha1:

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Re: On Paths: Brahma-net, Avataṃsaka, Surangama

Post by DGA » Wed Jul 11, 2012 3:45 pm

That's great stuff, Leo.

There are very broadly speaking (and overgeneralizing!) two approaches to this question. You might call one the "pious" version: all three of these texts were recorded as they were uttered by the historical Buddha, and any similarities & repetitions among them reflect the eternal truth of the Buddha's discourse. The other his the historical version: two of these texts were compiled/composed in China and presented as Indian-sourced sutras, and the other one is really more of a library of collected teachings that were composed at various times and places, but all of them reflect the true teaching of the Dharma (Buddha-vaca), the intent of the Buddha if not the exact words of the historical Shakyamuni. By the latter approach, the similarities among them indicate a kind of mimesis: sections of the Surangama Sutra, for instance, are clearly "inspired" by similar passages in the Lotus Sutra.

The Surangama Sutra & the Brahma Net Sutra are Chinese compositions. The Avatamsaka Sutra is the library of teachings I alluded to before. All three are authoritative Dharma in my opinion and in the view of East Asian Buddhism generally (you'll find some dissenters on this). The Awakening of Faith is another important and influential text in this category, as is the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment. All of them are texts you can trust. In fact, our little sangha has been reading the SPE in recent weeks; we're moving on the Surangama Sutra next.

That said, there are some masters (significant and important ones) who insist that the Surangama Sutra, for instance, was definitely, directly, and literally spoken by the historical Buddha in India, and to suggest otherwise is to slander the teachings. I think this is a pious fiction, but I do not debate this issue. YMMV.

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Leo Rivers
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Re: On Paths: Brahma-net, Avataṃsaka, Surangama

Post by Leo Rivers » Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:57 am

I will pursue this as I think it is what you are referring to:

found at: http://www.acmuller.net/bud-canon/sutra ... nment.html
The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment
(Yuanjue jing)
Translated by Charles Muller
September 17, 2003

Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva 文殊師利
Samantabhadra Bodhisattva 普賢菩薩
Universal Vision Bodhisattva 普眼菩薩
Vajragarbha Bodhisattva 金剛藏菩薩
Maitreya Bodhisattva 彌勒菩薩
Pure Wisdom Bodhisattva 淸淨慧菩薩
Power and Virtue Unhindered Bodhisattva 威德自在菩薩
Voice of Discernment Bodhisattva 辨音菩薩
Purifier of all Karmic Hindrances Bodhisattva 淨諸業障菩薩
Universal Enlightenment Bodhisattva 普覺菩薩
Perfect Enlightenment Bodhisattva 圓覺菩薩
Most Excellent of Worthies Bodhisattva 賢善首菩薩

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Re: On Paths: Brahma-net, Avataṃsaka, Surangama

Post by DGA » Thu Jul 12, 2012 3:06 pm

Yes, it's terrific reading. Ven. Sheng Yen's group published a very readable translation, with the master's commentary, under the title Complete Enlightenment. It's very much worth a few slow reads. Muller's translation, published as The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, is just as valuable, but more expensive (I found it a bit more readable). It includes commentary by the great Korean master, Kihwa.

enjoy! :reading:

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